Counselling is an umbrella term for all talking therapies which provide a safe and supportive environment in which clients are able to share their difficulties and are listened to in a way that helps them understand themselves better. Counselling helps clients find more effective and satisfying ways of living their lives. Counselling includes many different approaches, including Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), Humanistic/Person-centred Therapy and Integrative Therapy (blending a number of different approaches).
Clients may go to counselling because they are distressed and are seeking help with a specific problem. However, many clients attend counselling to gain greater confidence and move forward with their lives more effectively without experiencing a current crisis. Counselling can help with stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, bereavement, and so on. It can also help with day to day worries and decision making.
In the UK, there are three types of therapists who can offer counselling services: counsellors, counselling psychologists and clinical psychologists. A counsellor has specific training in counselling theory and skills as well as clinical experience of face-to-face counselling. Counselling and clinical psychologists hold a degree in psychology as well as a doctorate in counselling or clinical psychology.
The terms ‘counselling psychologist’ and ‘clinical psychologist’ are legally-protected terms in the UK, and in order to practice as such the therapists need to be registered with Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).